About a week ago I was riding my bicycle through the cool night air. I was enjoying myself, listening to some music. This was nothing unusual, it’s a frequent activity for me. I cycle quite a bit. Not as much as some, but more than most. As I was riding, I heard someone shout at me, and naturally, out of surprise, I jumped just a little. A flinch is what someone would call my reaction.
Before I get to my main point, I want to talk briefly about flinching. I remember as a kid, it was a common prank to pretend to slap one’s hand towards someone’s face, without actually hitting them, and then say, “Made you flinch.” I never did this myself, as I wasn’t enough of a douche to do something like that, but I had it done to me.
Flinching is a good thing. Why would you not flinch? Your body needs to protect itself. Imagine walking around in the wind and having something get blown at your face. You decide that you’re tough, so you don’t flinch. Then you get your eye poked. That’s why flinching is a good thing, it’s an automatic response to prevent injury. Still, some people think they are so cool for making other people flinch.
Now, let me get back to my original point. The shout I heard was from a girl driving past me. I want to address at least part of this post to that girl. Sure, she’ll probably never read it, and even if she does, she won’t know this is specifically about her, but I still want to respond to her.
You shouted at me while I was riding my bike. Being that you were riding in a car going at least twenty five miles per hour, and I was riding a bicycle going at most fifteen miles per hour, I was not able to give a proper response to your communication with/at me. First, I would like to ask you, what exactly did you want to accomplish by shouting out at me? My knee-jerk response was to flip you off, and though I began to lift my hand from he handlebar, I restrained myself, because I realized that you may not have intended to offend me, and if that was the case, a vulgar response on my part was not warranted.
Where you failed in your communication with me, is that you put me in a position where my only choices were to do nothing, flip you off, or wave at you. Obviously I chose to do nothing, and I hated doing that. It made me feel weak to not respond. As a male, I feel the need to respond when provoked, but in this case, with the alternatives, I didn’t have much choice. I already explained why I didn’t flip you off, and similarly, if I had waved and your intent had been to offend me, you would have been undeserving of such a courteous response on my part.
I really don’t know what else to say to you, because I didn’t understand your intent at shouting at me. I guess that’s your style, hiding behind the dashboard and shouting out at random people. I suppose you may have been drunk, in which case you probably don’t even remember the occasion.
Our communication was brief, but I suppose I wish you the best of luck in whatever your plans are.
To everyone else, I’ll say this. Cycling is rough. You get people shouting at you all the time. I guess because they think they are so cool. They aren’t cool. You also get people that accelerate as they drive past you. Yeah, that’s right, they speed up as they pass cyclists. I have no idea why they do this. To prove they’re going faster, I guess. They were going faster when they were going the speed limit, they don’t need to prove anything. Maybe they do it because they want to make a lot of noise so that they’ll look like an ass to the cyclist. It works, they do look like asses. I’m sorry, but we cyclists just don’t know how to respond to them, except to think that they’re idiots.
With the way motorists treat cyclists, I can understand why naked protest rides are held in cities such as Seattle. Cyclists need to make motorists aware. I admit, hundreds of motorists that pass me by are perfectly normal, and some of them are even courteous, but still there are those few that are really bad. Things are getting better for cyclists, though. More and more I see bike lanes getting put in. I love those a lot. They’re still pretty rare, but it at least lets me know that cities are thinking about their bike riding citizens.
I love riding. There is something very satisfying about knowing that I can travel by manpower rather than by gasoline. In a way it’s a macho thing for me. It makes me feel tough, it makes me feel healthy. Hell, maybe it makes me feel the way that those guys that accelerate past me feel.
I admit, I drive. I drive all the time during the winter. It isn’t easy to cycle in snow or on ice. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t work well, so I drive. I drive when I go grocery shopping, it wouldn’t be practical to do that by bike. I hate using a vehicle though. It feels like a cage, like being boxed in, but sometimes you need something more than a bicycle for transportation, I understand that. Still, whenever I can, I ride.
Interestingly enough, two days after that first girl shouted out at me, another one did the same. It was on a different street, but still it was about the same time. Maybe there is something about seeing a blinking light on the back of a man’s bicycle that drives a girl crazy, and makes the cyclist seem a little sexier even though it’s really too dark to tell. Yeah, I think that’s it.